Monday, March 30, 2009

6 Kids = Charity Case

Got a call the other day from the school nurse. Told me one of the aides said Julie's coat doesn't zipper. Mind you, this is the coat we bought for Julie in Kazakhstan all of 4 months ago.
"I know", I said. "The zipper is broken and I have a new coat for her, but I thought now that the weather is milder I would save the new coat for next year. Didn't think she would bother zipping up even if it did work, as it's pushing 60 degrees".
"Wellllll", said the nurse, "We have some coats just laying around here. Why don't we just send one home with Julie. If she can't use it perhaps someone else can, so just pass it on around and see who it fits". I hung up, embarrassed, thinking they must think I can't afford to send my kids to school properly dressed to protect them from the elements.

But if that wasn't bad enough, Julie came home from school that afternoon all happy and exclaiming about her pretty new coat. I looked down at her feet and saw that she had duct tape wrapped 'round and 'round one of her shoes. "What's all this about?" I asked.
Bella explained to me that the bottom of Julie's shoe had apparently come unglued during school and so the whole bottom of her shoe was flapping around like a SCUBA flipper. So the teacher duct-taped Julie's shoe together. Again, mind you, these are sneakers I bought for Julie BRAND-SPANKIN'-NEW about 2 mths ago.

My poor little orphan-child had to come home from school today in a charity coat and with her shoe duct-taped. I'll consider myself lucky if the school doesn't contact some government agency and advise them to drop in on us to see that we're properly caring for our adopted children.

Now I'm tempted to go find some funky fabric and sew big patches of it all over my kids' clothes. Maybe send them in with brown grocery bags for backpacks and bread and butter for lunches. Sit back and see what happens.
Could be interesting....

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Grooming Your Cockatiel

I finally got up the nerve this morning to tackle trimming the nails of Daniel's cockatiel Nick. He used to be a sweet bird, honest. He would ride around on Daniel's shoulder and perch on his head. But we've ruined him. Now he's a nasty little SOB, hence me putting off this long overdue task. To be sure of what I was doing, I got out our cockatiel book and reviewed the section entitled "Grooming Your Cockatiel". Follow along with me, won't you?

"Fortunately, cockatiels are relatively easy to care for when it comes to grooming."
Oh good, because I really don't have a whole lot of time this morning.

"You may want to enlist the aid of a helper while clipping your bird's nails."
Oh shoot. They're all at work/school. That's OK, I'll be fine on my own.

"When the bird is secure, use a sharp clipper to cut the excess nail off"
OK, now we've got a problem. "When the bird is secure". How does one secure a fiesty, scrappy, cussin', flailin' cockatiel with the wingspan of a condor?

"Trim only the tip of the nail where it is hooked."
From this I can only assume the author has only trimmed dead cockatiels.

"The main concern with clipping the nails is that you avoid the quick - the blood vessel deep within the nail."
Oh sh--.

Now I've got a bleeding screaming cockatiel who keeps twisting out of the old t-shirt I've got him wrapped in. Everytime I try to get a look at his claws (sorry, nails) to see if I've gotten them all, he hides his feet with his wings or his beak or twists around some more and calls me an ugly name. I'm pretty sure he's only got 6 (maybe 8) toes or whatever they are, but at times I'm sure I'm counting 20.

I finally decide it's good enough and get him back in his cage, relieved that the job is behind me. But then Nick's mood switches from seething anger to the indignant depression of a martyr. Instead of sitting pertly on his bar, he slumps morosely on the floor of his cage. He fluffs his feathers, trembles slightly. I start to worry. He doesn't look good. His talon (sorry, nail) is still bleeding.

My left arm for a styptic pencil!

I know, I thought. I'll give him his millet spray. This bird would walk over hot coals for millet spray.
I hang it in his cage but he doesn't even look at it. He fluffs his feathers some more.

Instead of going about my business and checking off the things on my To-Do list, I find busy work where I can watch him. He's unchanged, so I scurry to the other room to Google cockatiels to find out how I've killed him and if he can still be saved. All the while I'm wondering to myself if, when Nick dies, I will have time to purchase an identical cockatiel and teach it Nick's full repertoire of whistles before Daniel arrives home from school. Not finding the help I need from the computer, I sneak back to the other room and peek in on him. The bastard is eating his millet, but when he sees me he retreats to the corner and fluffs his feathers.

"I'm on to you!" I scream in my empty house.

I think I need to get out more.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Twilight Zone

Last night our local Blockbuster hosted a "Twilight Party" in anticipation of the Twilight DVD becoming available at the stroke of midnight. I promised to take Rosie and her friend McKenzie who was sleeping over. Then I got sucked into agreeing to pick up another friend (Lauren) and taking her along as well.
The girls had a blast.

The movie was playing on several screens around the store, and people (well, mostly teen and pre-teen girls) were camped out, glassy eyes glued to the screens. Whenever Edward would appear, I'm sure the screams could be heard from the drugstore across the street. Take my word, you didn't want to be there for the kissing scene.

The Blockbuster staff was great; they really made it a fun event for the girls. There were refreshments like blood-red punch and red-frosted cupcakes. There were games and activities scheduled intermittantly throughout the night. Rosie won a button for the Pin the Kiss on Edward game, and a friend of hers won the Decorate Your Own Twilight T-shirt game. There was much running and squealing and screaming of Twilight apparel-clad girls, and a few bleary-eyed parents sitting like sacks in corners of the store, waiting for the whole thing to be over so we could get back home and crawl into bed.

The movie ended shortly before midnight, and the lines formed to pick up pre-ordered DVDs. Another group formed as well. Desperate parents who had not gotten their acts together formed prayer circles, hoping against all hope that there would still be a few DVDs available for purchase after the pre-orders had been distributed. I was among that group. But some of the gods I prayed to must have been listening, as I was able to score one of the coveted DVDs and achieve fleeting hero status in the eyes of my daughter.

The girls tracked down the store employee they had developed a crush on in order to tell him goodbye, and then we loaded into the car. Dropped off Lauren, then headed home. I finally fell into my bed around 1:30 am and fell immediately to sleep. It was a tiring night, but so much fun for the girls. I can easily say that I took one for the team last night. Though I have to admit, Edward was kinda cute.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Adoption Defined ....

Not long ago my daughter bought a Webkinz (yet another in a long line). No sooner did she get home than she logged into the Webkinz website so she could "adopt" her glassy-eyed critter. Perhaps I'm hyper-sensitive, but it seems I hear the word 'adoption' thrown around quite a bit these days. I even heard someone I know mention his two "adopted" kids. Turns out he sends money to an organization that helps feed hungry children overseas. Hmmmm. That one made me stop and think.

What's that you say? You want to know what I think the word 'adoption' means? Alright, alright, I'll tell you. But first let me tell you what I think it's NOT:

*sprucing up a section of highway
*providing funding to help save a whale
*buying a pet
*sponsoring a child overseas
*creating a Build-a-Bear

These are all wonderful ways to open our hearts and our wallets (and in the case of pets, our homes). However, I have to say when I hear that someone has "adopted" a highway, or even a child in a sponsorship program, my hackles are raised, and I'm not even sure what a hackle is precisely. I guess this is because adopting a child, really adopting a child, is such an undertaking that anything else by the name of adoption pales in comparison. It is a huge commitment of our hearts, our time, and even our wallets to take a child into our homes and families, love them, nurture them, educate them, play and laugh with them, wring our hands over them, cry with them.
You must know of course, when I use the words commitment, and undertaking, they are not synonymous with "effort" or "difficulty". Just as a parent helping a child learn to ride a bike would find it a commitment rather than a time-sucking chore, so too adoptive parents jump through all the hoops set before us to complete the adoption process. It is work, but it is a labor of love.
Once we adopt a child, we bring them into the fold and make them our own. Any boundaries that would separate an adopted child from a child born into a family biologically are erased.
And I suppose that's the main difference. For most of the things we speak of adopting, we simply keep up an on-going sponsorship. But with a child, adoption refers to the paperwork process of making them all legal-like. After that it simply becomes raising a child.

I guess I'll probably remain overly sensitive. Knowing what my kids have been through to get to the point where they could join our family, it has become an emotionally charged word. But don't worry. If I hear you mention you're adopting a bog turtle, I'll do my best to behave myself. Down, hackles, down.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Home Again, Home Again ....

Fred and Rosie arrived home Monday morning after their foray to the west coast. Rosie absolutely loved it and said I might as well get used to the idea now that someday she will be moving out to CA. Of course I immediately told her no, absolutley not.

When the kids got home from school in the afternoon, Julie just about bowled over poor Rosie. I believe Jewels felt as if a limb had been severed when Ros was gone. "You, Bonnie, I miss! I love you SO MUCH!"

Monday, March 16, 2009

Change in Plans

As it turns out, Mary was offered a role in a movie which is filming in Atlanta, and she has to fly out today (Mon). She will not be able to take Rosie to the premiere after all. However she has arranged for a friend to take her around to some Hollywood touristy things for the day, and then Fred will escort her to the premiere tonight.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Once in a Lifetime ....

Rosie got the surprise of her life last night. Something Fred, my sister Mary and I have been cooking up for a couple weeks now.

Let me back up a step. Mary, as most of you know, is an actress. She is in an upcoming movie called Adventureland, in which one of her co-stars is Kristen Stewart (?sp) of Twilight fame. Well, Rosie is a huge fan of Twilight and has been bugging her Aunt Mary for an autographed picture of Kristen for some time now. Mary learned she will be attending the Hollywood premiere of the movie on Monday night (3/16). So she called me on the outside-remote-as-can-be chance that Rosie could go as her guest. Normally, this would not be possible, as I would not feel comfortable having Rosie fly unattended. Well, the gods must have aligned things in advance for us, b/c Mary just happened to be on the East coast the w/e before and was returning to LA early Sun morning. So there's Rosie's escort out to LA. As if that weren't enough, Fred is out in LA on business and is flying back to Philly on Tues night. There's her escort back.
So as crazy as this sounds, I said yes.

We decided to keep it a surprise not only for the chance this could fall through, but also just for the fun of it. We were in NJ anyway this w/e for a couple things, so my Mom was watching my kids while Mary and I went to our sister Veronica's bachelorette party Sat night. When we got back around 1am, the kids were sound asleep and cute as can be. I packed the last couple things of Rosie's in my car, grabbed an hour of sleep, then woke at 3am. I quickly got dressed and woke Rosie up, telling her to dress quietly and come into the kitchen. She had no clue what was going on, but did as I said and struggled sleepily into a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. She looked so confused when she walked into the kitchen where Grammy, Aunt Mary and I were all standing, grinning maniacally. She asked, "What's going on?" I said, "How would you like to go with Aunt Mary out to LA? What do you think about being her guest to her movie premiere?" Her face slowly began to change and her eyes turned from bleary to teary as the reality of what I was saying to her sunk in. She hugged me, then Aunt Mary in tight embraces as the emotions just washed over her.

But in a few minutes time we were in the car and driving the hour and a half to the Philly Airport in the middle of the night. After securing her boarding pass and walking with them as far as the security checkpoint, we said our tearful goodbyes. I watched as she and her Aunt Mary, almost equal in height and with matching brunette bobs, began the process of removing shoes and placing laptops, keys, and spare change in the scan-for-all-evil bins. Once they were through, we gave a final wave to each other and they were gone.

I've received word, through phone calls and a couple pictures by e-mail, that they arrived safe and sound. But I still can't believe my baby girl is across the country right now, enjoying the LA sunshine, exploring Mary's apt for the first time ever, and just in general being as full of herself as can be. Mani/pedis, the Hollywood sign, the whole works. Tomorrow, she will sit and soak it all in as she watches Mary in play rehearsals. Then she and her actress/Aunt will get dolled up and walk down the red carpet for a Hollywood premiere. She will gawk at faces as she engages in the always fun game of celebrity-stalking. With any luck, she will meet Kristen face-to-face and tell her what a fan she is, and get her autograph. Talk about once in a lifetime ....

Friday, March 13, 2009

Eleven Friends

Our dinnertime grace starts out,
"For health and food,
For love and friends ...."

The other night, I heard Julie a little more clearly than usual. Her version was slightly different:
"For health and food,
Eleven friends ...."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

It Was A Good Day

James had a wonderful birthday yesterday. His first in America, his first with his family. We took him to dinner at Bugaboo Creek. He loved the food and watching the various animals flop and move around up on the walls. He seemed surprised and embarassed when the wait staff all came over clapping and singing a goofy birthday song and attempted to get him to "kiss the moose" (he wouldn't have any part of it).

At home we opened presents and he loved each and every little thing. He really seemed floored when he opened his gift from Fred and me, which was a Zune. He had borrowed Patrick's a lot to listen to music, so he was thrilled to have his own.

After presents we had cake and ice cream, and it was just as I had dreamed. When it came time to make a wish and blow out his candles, he closed his eyes and folded his hands in prayer for a moment.

Happy Birthday, James. We love you. son.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Make a Wish .....

About this time one year ago I wrote the post below. At that time our adoption future was very uncertain. Our dossier was being prepared and we were hoping we would be given the greenlight to travel to Kazakhstan to begin the adoption proceedings, but we really had no sense of certainty about it. We prayed and hoped a lot. We lost a lot of sleep tossing and turning with the angst of it all. We just knew that no matter how slim the chances seemed, we had to at least do our part and keep trying.

Borya celebrated his 13th birthday yesterday (3/11)! I'm hoping and praying that his next birthday will be celebrated in his home, surrounded by his family all singing to him, with a sloppy, homemade cake and flickering candles on the table in front of him.

Now here I sit today, one year later, and my head is reeling with the reality that wishes do come true. Today the little 8 year old boy I met so many years ago turned 14. As I write this, he sits in his school, with his new-found friends wishing him Happy Birthday and clapping him on the back. Tonight after dinner her will sit with a sloppy homemade cake and flickering candles on the table in front of him. He will sit and listen, grinning face glowing in the candlelight, as his sisters and brothers, his mother and father, sing Happy Birthday shouting and out of tune. He will open the gifts we've gotten for him, and I know he will appreciate the little things the kids picked out and bought for him with their money. He will celebrate his birthday this year in his home. With his family. I don't know what he will wish for when he blows out his birthday candles, but I know I'll be sending a prayer of thanks. Thanks for granting this wish.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Shopping ad nauseum

3 beautiful dresses ............................check
3 prs tights ...................................2 down, 1 to go
3 pairs of pretty girly shoes ..................check
3 handsome black jackets........................check
3 pairs kakhi dress pants.......................check
3 all-grown-up ties..............................check
3 pairs dress socks .............................2 down, 1 to go
3 white button-down dress shirts.................2 down, 1 to go
3 belts..........................................2 down, 1 to go
3 pairs boys dress shoes.........................check

While shopping for the above:
playing hide-n-seek in the clothing racks........check
whining "are we done yet?" ......................check
trekking to bthrms at opposite end of stores.....check
complaining that something is itchy..............check
finding perfect thing but not in needed size.....check
grey hair rapidly outpacing natural color .......check
honing math skills by doing head counts .........check
honing math skills by calculating sales price....check
emptying wallet..........................................check
children dying of starvation and dehydration.....check
giving the starving-children-in-Africa speech....check

6 beautiful/handsome children ...................check

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Just a Walk in the Park

Took the kids (plus friend Lucy) to the park today and had a blast. In just a couple hours they managed to:
Play on the playset
Jump the creek countless times
Climb in and on a drainage pipe
Drink a gallon of water
Eat a large bag of animal crackers
Get cut
Get muddy
Get sand in their eyes
Play sumo wrestling
Draw pictures in the sand
Splash in the creek
Have a game of freeze tag
Have the time of their lives

66 degrees. Time for a snowball fight.

It's a beautiful spring day. Might reach 70 tomorrow. Most of the snow has melted, but where the kids had piled up snow to make forts there was still some left. Kids got dressed in shorts and flip-flops and headed outside to have a snowball fight. After all, isn't that the first thing you think to do on a spring day?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Tooth Fairy -- Friend or Foe?

Julie lost a baby tooth yesterday. Well, more accurately, she ripped it from her bleeding gums. We explained to her the concept of putting her tooth under her pillow when she went to bed, so the Tooth Fairy could come in the night and make the exchange. Her eyes widened as we talked and she finally blurted out, "Fairy, my room? Me sleeping? Noooooo!" Eventually we convinced her it would be OK and she was able to put the tooth in our little tooth box, put it under her pillow and drift off to sleep. When she woke, she found the tooth box still under her pillow and thought she'd been ripped off. But then she shook it and didn't hear any sound. Again with the eyes widening. She opened up the box to find a dollar in there in place of her tooth and that was all she wrote. Now she and the Tooth Fairy are best of friends. Perhaps I should pack away all the wrenches and pliers.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Adoptive Mother of the Year Award

As you may have heard, our area got hit with a pretty big snow storm Sun night. The kids of course had the day off of school, and we had steps to shovel, so I figured out whose turn it was and sent them packin'. Fred came down a bit later and asked if he should call the social worker. I was clueless for a moment or two till it dawned on me. All three of my adopted kids were out shoveling snow while my bio kids were inside toasty and warm by the fire. It honestly just worked out that way based on chores and turns, but I have to admit, it didn't look too good.
Still, I don't think Fred will be reporting me. Then he'd have to take care of this crew all by himself ....

Monday, March 2, 2009

And the winner of the science fair is ....

I have no idea. But Patrick and his project partner Garrett went to the county science fair with their project. Good job, boys!

Girls Day Out. Plus Daniel.

So the girls were going to die if we did not see the Jonas Brothers Movie on opening day. We had a lot of appointments that day, but the day off school, so the only way we could fit it in was to take them to an 11am show. Wouldn't have time to see that and get home again before our first appt, so Daniel had to come with us. So picture me, with my three girls, plus our friend McKenzie, and poor little Daniel, who is about as Pure Boy as they come. He sat in his seat looking miserable as screaming girls chased through the streets after Nick, Joe and Kevin on the big screen. He covered his ears, then sat on the floor till I finally got the hint and offered to sit with him on the bench out in the lobby. He was much happier there, trying to jimmy all the gumball and candy machines for coins or candy, running around in snowboots (on a 65 degree spring-like day) that were 7 sizes too big for him.

But he was a trooper and he lived to tell the tale. We then went on to lunch, then our first appt in downtown Wilmington. A little time on the playground at AI duPont, then Bella's appt with her eye doctor (can you say surgery one more time?). Finally home, a quick pizza dinner, and then I went out to my book club. Haven't done that in a dog's age, so it was good to get together with the girls and talk about grown-up things. Though of course the subject of most of our conversations was kids. School, chores, homework, music lessons, the things they do that make us scratch our heads.
And of course, the Jonas Brothers.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Another New First

Went through a tunnel today driving the kids down to Baltimore for Port Discovery. Both the kids found it a most incredible experience. Julie's eyes about popped out of her head as she exclaimed, "What the hecka!" And James had fun pointing out the "Titanics" we saw docked as we drove along. I think Port Discovery paled in comparison....


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